Summer 2008 Trip: Day 28 – Yellowstone National Park

What is it about traveling with my dad that causes me to wake up at ungodly hours of the morning for photo shoots? Oh, wait… it’s not just when he’s around. Why can’t sunrise be later in the morning? I’d sleep better that way.

Anyways, we got up at 5:15am in the hope of shooting Old Faithful during the sunrise. Sunrise wsa slated for about 5:40am and Old Faithful was supposed to erupt at 6am or so. Since it didn’t actually erupt until 6:15, we missed the sunrise, but still caught a bit of early morning light. I’m not sure how the photos turned out, a couple looked decent on the camera’s LCD, but viewing them on the computer when I get a chance will tell me the real story.

After breakfast in the Old Faithful Inn (breakfast buffet is $10.10, a deal for the excellent food they serve). We hit the road, getting to Gibbon Falls in the late morning. A couple people stared at me as if I was insane for the perch I picked out to shoot the waterfalls, and one old lady was worrying so badly that she wanted to help me back over the marginal railing at the edge of the road. Once I made it back over, my parents relayed to me that several people were actually taking pictures of me instead of the waterfall because they thought I was crazy. Oh well, I go where the shot is and it really wasn’t all that dangerous of a spot.

Up the road further was Mammoth Springs, which I was rather unimpressed by, probably because most of the springs were dry. I was expecting a lot more impressive scenery than there was actually there I suppose. A few more miles up the road led us to Gardiner, MT (primarily because my mother wanted to be able to say she’d gone back to Montana; my parents met there while stationed in the Air Force). We ended up stopping along the way for some pictures of bighorn sheep and mountain goats of course. (Are there no antelope here?)

We headed along the northern road of the park next, through the mountains, down some switchbacks towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and the Upper and Lower Falls. Unfortunately, Canyon Rim Drive was closed, so we couldn’t make it to the overlook at the brink of the Lower Falls (over 300 feet tall) but we did make it to the brink of the Upper Falls (a little more than 100 feet tall). We found the view unimpressive… you couldn’t really see the falls from the viewpoints but noticed that across the river there was an overlook. A quick look at the map later and we were back in the cars, headed across the river. A short hike, mostly downhill got us to the observation point where we had a nice uphill climb to look forward to on the way back.

Since we didn’t get to visit the Grand Canyon, and my mom had really been looking forward to that, we drove a few more miles down the road to Artist point, a spot renowned for the number of artists who have come there to paint the canyon and were pleasantly surprised to learn that the lower falls was visible at the end of the canyon. Checking the direction of the sun, I immediately made my decision that this will be my sunrise photo spot for the morning. We’ll see how it turns out.

With that, since it was getting late, we headed south towards Fishing Bridge (and a gas station for the Jeep) where my parents and I split up. They headed east for Michigan so my dad could be back to work on Monday while I’m staying in the park a few more days before heading to Glacier and then back to Michigan so I can take a week or so to take care of my belongings and make my final preparations for moving to Alaska.

So, back north for me, where I shot what should turn out to be a fantastic picture of the sun setting over the mountains being reflected in the lakes of Hayden Valley. A traffic jam caused by a herd of moving buffalo later, I was in a thunderstorm, which was quickly followed by hail. I found a parking lot to pull into and sleep for the night (the entire reason I brought the Jeep instead of my car is the ability to fold the seats down and sleep in the back) and now my alarm is set for 5:15am so I can go shoot the sunrise a mile up the road at the “Grand Canyon.”

Picture 1

Travel Distance: 130 miles

Summer 2008 Trip: Day 27 – Hill AFB, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park

We took our leave of my brother’s house this morning around 9:30 and after a stop for an oil change in the Jeep, we got on the interstate for the Tetons around a quarter after 10 in the morning. An uneventful 6 hours later (we stopped for food instead of eating in the car) we pulled into the Tetons. Unfortunately, they were mostly covered by haze so I’m doubtful that I pulled any really good shots out of our whirlwind tour of the park. However, I won’t know until I can get them on the computer. Regardless, I’ve got a few locations marked down so I can go back to them before I leave the area and try to photograph them in better light.

After the Tetons, we pressed north to get to Yellowstone in time for some sunset pictures. A very quick stop along the main road in from the south to shoot a waterfall (short because the mosquitoes here are huge and thick) and a delay for road construction got us to the West Thumb and Geyser Basin area in time for sunset, though I think I wasted the best light trying to figure out how to shoot it properly. Regardless, I think I’ve got some neat shots of thermal pools.

Right now, we’re in a room at the Old Faithful Inn, a room lacking a bathroom (it’s a communal bathroom down the hall), which is a bit surprising for $100 a night. It’s incredibly rustic feeling though, which is awesome in its own way. I’ll take a couple pictures in the morning of the Inn (when I don’t have to use a tripod) to share.

We’ve semi-have plans for shooting in the morning, and as it’s nearing 11:30pm now, it’s time I hop in bed for oh, 5 hours of sleep.

Day 27 - Hill AFB to the Tetons and Old Faithful

Travel Distance: 372 miles

Summer 2008 Trip: Day 26 – Hill AFB

I’m afraid that nothing too exciting happened today. Well, other than my brother’s dog jumping out of his slow-moving Jeep and possibly fracturing her leg. Other than that, I’ve been editing all the photos I’ve taken in Utah that I hadn’t gotten to yet and started uploading them to flickr. Seeing as it’s over 400 megabytes, I’ll let it run overnight and it should be done by morning when I head for the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. Midday on Wednesday my parents will head back to Michigan so my dad can be to work on Monday.

Anyways, it’s dinner time, and I need to load the Jeep up; expect a few picture posts soon.

Summer 2008 Trip: Day 25 – Zion National Park

I woke up at 5am this morning to shoot the sunrise on the Towers of the Virgins in Zion National Park. The park was pretty when we drove through it briefly around sunset last night, but it was positively gorgeous this morning. The red light of morning light up the rock formations brilliantly and produced some wonderful contrasts. We’ll see how the photos turn out, but I’m fairly confident they’ll turn out well.

Around 7am, my dad and I packed up our gear and headed back to the hotel to wake up Scott, Sarah and my Mom. Got there around 7:30 and finally made it out of the hotel around 10am. We headed into the park and took the shuttle bus into the scenic drive of teh canyon (from late March through (or until, I can’t remember) November, the only access is via the parks free shuttle service. They run every 6 to 8 minutes during the peak hours of the day, and it does ease congestion quite a bit.

The park is undoubtedly pretty, and the walk along the river towards the narrows is a lot of fun, though it’s rather crowded. (I can’t recall a single time that we didn’t see other people around us.) Unfortunately, we didn’t bring the proper gear with us to hike through the Narrows (the canyon narrows significantly, constricting at its tightest point to 18 feet). Oh well, it’s a trip for another time, and I will be back eventually.

By the time we worked our way back through the park to our car for lunch, with a five hour drive ahead of us, it was time to roll out… with a quick hour or so detour along Carmel Highway to look at the park approaching from the east. It’s an entirely different view and well worth the time to drive it.

An uneventful trip back to Hill AFB, and now… definitely time for sleep.

Day 25 - Zion National Park to Hill AFB

Travel Distance: 335 miles